The City of Mount Pearl launched its new automated garbage collection system Thursday, which will have trucks retrofitted with robotic arms.
Phase 1-A of the project will implement the system on Mortimore Drive and neighbouring streets.
Coun. John Walsh, chair of infrastructure and public works for Mount Pearl, says the goal is to have the entire city operating on the system by September.
“We implemented the system primarily because we’re always looking for ways and means to sort of gain new efficiencies to try to find innovative ways of doing things, and with the waste management system, this seemed like the absolute best fit for us,” he said.
The city is in the process of getting the arms installed on the trucks and providing residents with the specialized carts needed for the equipment to run properly.
The project is a one-time cost to the city, with the biggest expenditure being the purchase of carts at $900,000, while the cost of retrofitting the trucks is another $300–350,000.
“That will bring the cost to somewhere in the area of $1.2 million,” Walsh said.
Residents of Mount Pearl can expect to pay for the new system through taxation (a $20 annual fee, $10 per tax bill), and cost recovery is expected within five years.
“We decided to be totally upfront and transparent with it because we didn’t budget for it this year,” Walsh said.
The automated system promises to be environmentally-friendly, eliminating the need for nets and solving problems with uncovered garbage.
“It’s clean and it’s green,” Walsh said, adding that other jurisdictions have already successfully implemented the system.
“In fact, Labrador City has been using this for several years now,” Walsh said. “Slightly different technology — I guess the technology is improving all the time with the extended arms and that sort of thing — but the system is really pretty much what was used there for some years.”
Another incentive to transition to automated trucks was to reduce worker’s injury.
“It eliminates need for the workers to get off the truck literally hundreds of times a day, and to be manually lifting the garbage, wrenching their backs, that sort of thing,” Walsh said.
“So it eliminates the number of (compensation claims) there is and all of that.”
Workers will now stay inside their trucks, operating the automated arm through a remote control and camera system.